Author: mc6617

“Hillbrow, scary? You have not seen the half of it.” (Augmenter’s Post_from Mingu)

             The video shot on March 30th, 2020, by AmaBhungane, an investigative journalism organization that focuses primarily on exposing political corruption in South Africa, contains scenes of violence from a policeman in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, against people who are “accused of” breaking lock-down rules. 

             In plainclothes, the police seen in the video is running after people with his whip and beating them, as his acquiescence to the orders from the “higher up.” Amid such police brutality, a crowd from what appears to be a vertical slum or a shabby apartment complex cheers from above, as the person being chased runs away from the officer.

             The sound of the cheers is analogous to that of a football/soccer match, an extremely disturbing resemblance that made me question if the noise could have ever been, at least for some, a reflection of the scene of tension and violence being considered entertainment of some sorts.

             Perhaps this assumption came from the experience of reading the following lines from Welcome to Our Hillbrow, which made me wonder if the person being chased could be by any chance a Makwerekwere:

             Makwerekwere knew they had no recourse to legal defence if they were caught. The police could detain or deport them without allowing them any trial at all. Even the Department of Home Affairs was not sympathetic to their cause. No one seemed to care that the treatment of Makwerekwere by the police, and the lack of sympathy from the influential Department of Home Affairs, ran contrary to the human rights clauses detailed in the new constitution of the country (23).

             The name of the organization that shot this short clip, AmaBhungane, means “dung beetles” in isiZulu, the primary indigenous language of South Africa. The center claims, according to its Twitter profile, that they are “digging dung, fertilizing democracy.” And it is thanks to the efforts of investigative (and citizen) journalism like AmaBhugane that accounts of police brutality and the want of public sympathy as shown in the YouTube video can be publicized to people and possibly contribute to holding the authorities accountable if any abuse of their power occurs.

             Through platforms such as YouTube and social media, the repeated patterns (and histories) of police brutality from the United States and Hong Kong to Nigeria and South Africa have been exposed to the world. Perhaps one of the ‘us versus them’ narratives that could be of focus in close-reading Welcome to Our Hillbrow is the relationship between the civilians and the police. While the efforts of AmaBhugane in sharing this video with the world helps to understand how police brutality is NEVER an issue that is confined to the United States, which is a misconception particularly common among the non-U.S. nationals, the following reply to a comment of the video further adds to an unfortunate and disturbing fact regarding the reality in Hillbrow:

“Hillbrow, scary? You have not seen the half of it.”

Link to AmaBhungane’s Twitter.

Whether Patriarchy be old or mere…(Augmenter’s Post by Mingu Cho)

             In the most recent convener’s post, Mrs. Alving is described as a character that embodies a “progressive, feminist way of approaching marriage and motherhood.” However, the latter part of the play shows how her approach does lack progressiveness at some points, particularly in regards to motherhood. When Oswald says, in Act III, that he has nothing to thank his father, Mrs. Alving admonishes her son by saying, “surely a child ought to love its father in spite of all.” In contrary to how in Act I Mrs. Alving contends with Pastor Manders, who claims that a child’s proper place is the “home of his fathers,” the mother of Oswald in Act III treats familial or filial love as an indisputable obligation.

             Note the following exchange of words between Mrs. Alving and Oswald on page 158:

Oswald: What if a child has nothing to thank its father for? Never knew him? You don’t really believe in this old superstition still, do you? And you so enlightened in other ways?

Mrs. Alving: You call that mere superstition..!

             While Oswald considers unconditional love towards his father as “old superstition,” Mrs. Alving responds to her son’s claim by replying to how such belief could be a “mere superstition.” Here the ‘old’ and ‘mere’ do not correspond to each other, suggesting that Mrs. Alving could have added a different layer of connotation to the word used by her son. Considering how she has arduously attempted to guarantee how Oswald inherits nothing from his father, Mrs. Alving might have liked to mask the eventuality of how the sins of the father are destined to haunt the son. Hence, a distortion of how the mythical unconditional love is characterized, from being ‘old’ to ‘mere,’ could be an unconscious slip of language that reveals Mrs. Alving’s desire to not accept a faith that she understands is bound to occur, and also a momentary but interiorized capitulation to patriarchy.

Mona Hatoum, Performance Still (1985–95) © Mona Hatoum​

             Patriarchy, however, whether you put ‘old’ or ‘mere’ in front of it, can neither be ignored because it is a centuries-old practice, as a system that ‘has always been there,’ nor because of its detrimental effects on the progress of society can be trivialized. Perhaps, Mrs. Alving’s respond to Oswald shows how easier it is to ‘react’ to a possible allusion to patriarchy than to break away from its chains or internalizations that may unconsciously be registered to an individual, as demonstrated by Mrs. Alving’s subordination of her son’s brutal honesty as a “terrible thought.”

             No different from Mrs. Alving and Oswald, our generation is inherited the undesirable heritage of patriarchy. Whether our thoughts, actions, decisions, and language knowingly or unknowingly take patriarchy with us or vice versa, the ultimate solution to patriarchy would be to petrify it and purge it, so that its ghosts stop from hunting us and preventing our progress. However cliché it may sound, it is 2020, and we all must wake up from patriarchy.